High school: KMS, ACGC see biggest changes in section realignment

Fighting Saints moving up to Class AA in six sports; eight Falcon teams drop down to A starting in 2023-24

KMS junior Hunter Kallstrom, 33, looks in a deflected pass for a reception during a Class A state quarterfinal game against Springfield on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022 at Old National Bank Stadium in St. Bonifacius.
KMS junior Hunter Kallstrom, 33, looks in a deflected pass for a reception during a Class A state quarterfinal game against Springfield on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022 at Old National Bank Stadium in St. Bonifacius.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

The postseason paths for Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City will look significantly different starting next fall.

Section realignments were announced by the Minnesota State High School League for the 2023-24 and ‘24-’25 school years late last week. KMS will be leaping up a class in most sports due to its MSHSL size going from 194 students to 220. Similarly, ACGC is dropping down after going from 232 to 191 in the next cycle.

KMS activities that’ll jump up to Class AA include: football (4A to 5AA); baseball (6A to 3AA); softball (3A to 3AA); boys and girls basketball (6A to 3AA); and volleyball (6A to 3AA). The Fighting Saints’ football team is coming off an appearance in the Class A state tournament this fall. They are now in a section with Eden Valley-Watkins, Holdingford, Kimball, Paynesville and Royalton.

Wrestling remains in Section 5A. KMS’ co-ops with Benson in gymnastics (6A), cross-country (6A), boys and girls tennis (3A) and track and field (3A) will all stay put.

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ACGC junior shortstop Keegan Kessler-Gross snags a chopper in the infield during a Central Minnesota Conference game against Eden Valley-Watkins on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at Kingery Field in Atwater.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

At ACGC, eight sports are dropping down a class: football (5AA to 4A); boys and girls basketball (3AA to 2A); volleyball (3AA to 2A); baseball (3AA to 4A); softball (3AA to 4A); and boys and girls golf (3AA to 5A). The Falcons are staying put in wrestling (5A), track and field (5A) and dance team (2A).


“This is a really a good thing for us,” said ACGC activities director Marj Maurer. “We were always on the small end of AA size-wise. This will help us out quite a bit.

“It’ll be very good for our student-athletes. It’s a nice change for them and we should be competitive.”

Maurer is retiring as the Falcons’ AD following the end of the school year. She’s worked as the community education director for 26 years and has been AD for 14 years when the two roles were combined. Matt Zupke, the head wrestling coach, assistant football coach, assistant track coach and social studies teacher at BOLD, was hired to replace Maurer at the ACGC school board meeting on March 27.

Maurer said she and her husband plan to move near Luverne to be near their son and grandchildren.

“I’m at that age,” Maurer said with a laugh. “Just ready to do some different things in life. I still love my job.”

Willmar with minor tweaks

While Willmar’s MSHSL enrollment dropped from 1,047 to 917, the Cardinals’ remain in the same class in all its sports. Three sports will change sections.

Girls hockey is making the shift from 6A to Section 2A. Willmar, along with River Lakes — a co-op featuring Rocori, New London-Spicer and Paynesville — move from 6A to 2A. They will be in the section with Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, Hutchinson, Mankato West and Minnesota River.

Willmar Girls Hockey 121722 002.jpg
Willmar Cardinals sophomore Lauren Eilers keeps possession of the puck wile approaching the goal while hosting Delano at the Willmar Civic Center on Saturday, December 17, 2022
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

In soccer, the Cardinals will see plenty of Central Lakes Conference foes when they move from 6AA to 8AA. For the boys, CLC rivals Alexandria, Rocori, St. Cloud Tech and St. Cloud Apollo are in the section along with Becker, Detroit Lakes and Little Falls. Alexandria, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Little Falls, Rocori, St. Cloud Tech and St. Cloud Apollo are in the girls section.


The Willmar football team remains in Section 2AAAA. The section goes from six to five teams, with Hutchinson, Marshall, New Ulm and St. Peter remaining with the Cardinals. Jordan leaves the section, dropping from 2AAAA to 3AAA.

While Willmar cross-country remains in Section 8AA, some new competition is moving in as Perham goes up a class. Coming up from 8A, the Perham girls are the defending Class A state champs while the boys placed third at state last fall.

Other moves

  • As they hope to repeat as Class AAA state champions, the New London-Spicer football team will see a few changes in Section 6AAA. Going from seven teams to six, gone are Pierz (7AAA) and Morris/Chokio-Alberta (8AAA). Sauk Centre (6AA) is a newcomer to the section, which includes Albany, Melrose, Minnewaska and Montevideo. 
  • In wrestling, Minnewaska moves up a class, going from Section 5A to 8AA. This comes after the Lakers’ enrollment increased from 337 to 351. The Quad County co-op with MACCRAY, Renville County West and Yellow Medicine East, is going down from 3AA to 5A. 
  • Litchfield track and field and cross-country are both dropping down a class, going from 6AA to 5A
  • Central Minnesota Christian and Renville County West girls basketball are switching sections. The Bluejays and Jaguars will go from the Mankato-centric 2A to 3A, which heavily features teams from the Camden Conference. 
  • Minnewaska volleyball (3AA to 6AA), track and field (5A to 6A) and girls swimming and diving (6A to 8A) are all switching sections. Paynesville boys and girls golf (6AA to 3AA) are also changing sections. 
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Enrollment sizes

School ‘21-’23 ‘23-’25

ACGC 232 191

BBE 182 178

Benson 200 169

BOLD 187 179


CCS 39 61

CMCS 97 90

Dawson-Boyd 160 143

KMS 194 220

LQPV 163 172

Litchfield 413 383

MACCRAY 186 166

Minnewaska 337 351


Montevideo 343 313

NLS 416 416

Paynesville 270 251

RCW 138 119

Willmar 1,047 917

YME 193 170

Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune.

He can be reached via email at: or his office number: 320-214-4332.
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